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17th Oct 2021

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Hungary only EU state against bill to attract skilled migrants

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Hungary is the only EU state voting against a bill aiming to lure highly-qualified immigrants to work in Europe, despite Budapest attracting only six such people in 2019.

An EU document dated 24 September says Hungary "does not consider either necessary or appropriate the further harmonisation of the relevant rules in the field of legal migration."

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  • Screenshot of the leaked EU internal document (Photo: EUobserver)

"Hungary opposes any restriction on the application of labour market test beyond the provisions currently in force," it said.

Also known as the EU 'Blue Card', the bill is set to be adopted by the Council, representing member states, later this week.

The 2009 directive spells out entry and residence conditions for people to take up highly-qualified employment in the member states.

But relatively few are signing up, triggering a reform in order to attract more.

Just under 37,000 took advantage of the scheme in 2019, with most going to Germany. Hungary took six the same year - the least among any EU state.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are abstaining, notes the EU document.

The bill will likely sail through because it only needs a qualified majority vote.

But the objections still point to hardline positions against migration, legal or not, among dissenting EU states.

Hungary says its objections are also rooted in labour market protection. Forty-seven people went to Hungary under the scheme between 2012 and 2019, according to the EU's statistical office, Eurostat.

The reformed rules to be adopted impose less stringent criteria for applicants and employers, while also easing family reunification. Highly skilled refugees will also be able to apply.

The vote comes as the European Commission is pushing its stalled asylum and migration reform package, which it proposed in September of last year.

"We have progress. We had progress on the Blue Card scheme," Margaritis Schinas, European Commission vice-president, told journalists last week.

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